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Throwing pots again

Ever since we first got together, I’ve become something of a closet potter. It was all Christopher’s doing originally – he’d always wanted to understand how to throw a pot on a wheel. So for one of our first holidays together he booked us a week on a pottery course down in Cornwall. The idea was that we spent the mornings having one-to-one tuition from the resident potter, and then the afternoons were free to go sightseeing. That bit was fine – I’d never been to Cornwall before, and Christopher knew the county well, so he really enjoyed introducing me to it. The mornings though were a bit of a disaster.

The problem was a combination of Christopher being a perfectionist and wanting to fully understand the process, and the potter being a fine artist in her own right but a lousy teacher. So every time he threw a wobbly pot (which when one’s learning is all the time) she said “Oh that’s an interesting shape” or “What a happy accident”. But she couldn’t explain to him what he had done to cause the wobble, or what to do next time to avoid it. He got more and more frustrated and by the time we got home at the end of the week he had sworn off pottery for good. I on the other hand (having been reluctant at first) was absolutely hooked.

I tried several places locally, but then discovered Eastnor Pottery, which is just down the road from me, and have been going there regularly for close on 12 years now. Jon Williams (aka Jon the Potter) is an absolutely inspirational teacher, for all age ranges from pre-schoolers to pensioners. Even though I’ve been going there for so long, I still learn something new every time. I’ve made several complete dinner services over the years, and eat off my plates and out of my serving bowls virtually daily – it’s a very satisfying feeling having made my own crockery. The picture below is one that Christopher took of me throwing a serving bowl.

Gillian throwing a bowl

But when Christopher was taken ill, I stopped going to the pottery. It was a commitment of a whole day, and it just didn’t feel appropriate at the time to spend a day on my hobby when we could be doing something together. After he died, the family counselor at the hospice suggested that I should make an effort to do something entirely selfish, just for me, that I would enjoy. I immediately thought of the pottery, and tentatively phoned Jon to see if he had any spaces left on one of his weekend courses. Fortunately he did, and I first went back to Eastnor just a few weeks after the funeral. I found it as absorbing as ever and soon got back into the swing of throwing, and have been back there several times since. I was there again today.

One of the things I most enjoy about throwing is that it is a very “right-brained” activity – it’s all about hand-eye coordination and concentration. So one really¬† can’t be worrying about anything else, or it immediately shows up in a wobbly pot. It’s therefore a very good stress-reliever, and that’s one of the main things I get out of it (as well as a constant supply of plates, bowls, platters, mugs, wine goblets, jugs, lidded pots etc etc!). I could instantly tell at around 2:30 this afternoon that it was time to call it a day, as my pots started to go all wobbly as my concentration lapsed. I’ve come home mentally and physically worn out (it’s surprisingly hard work and I’ll definitely feel it in my legs and back tomorrow), but I should sleep well tonight as a result.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Tim Hope | 31 January 2011 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Eating off your own plates is super cool!

  2. Veronica | 1 February 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    What a great way to escape into your own space.